Pensacola, Florida
Monday October 20th 2014

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The Buzz 1/05/12

HOW MANY HOMELESS? The local homeless population seems to be growing. Florida has some of the highest numbers of homeless veterans. But how many men, women and children are homeless in the region?

Every year EscaRosa Coalition of the Homeless (ECOH) conducts the “U Count” Point-In-Time Homeless Survey. The group aims to get a handle on the homeless population in Escambia and Santa Rosa counties.

The survey is also used to determine the needs of the local homeless. This year the count will be from 8 a.m. on Thursday, Jan. 26 to 8 a.m. on Friday, Jan. 27.

The Coalition is seeking a minimum of 150 volunteers to help with the survey. Volunteers will only serve two to four hour shifts. No experience is required and all volunteers will be trained. Volunteer applications are online at escarosa.wordpress.com or you can contact John Johnson, ECOH executive director at 439-3009.

COMMISSIONERS AT THE RODEO After losing his job following a brief and controversial stint with the Escambia County Equestrian Center, Forrest Gibbs is suing three county commissioners. The officials, he contends, interfered with his job and caused his firing.

While the Escambia County Commission did not fire Gibbs, they did have discussions about whether or not Commissioner Wilson Robertson had overstepped any bounds when pushing for Gibbs to get the job. Following those discussions, County Administrator Randy Oliver fired Gibbs and restarted the hiring process.

“I think it should be pretty clear for the court system to see what happened,” said Commissioner Grover Robinson.

Robinson, as well as commissioners Kevin White and Marie Young, are named in the lawsuit. Commissioner Gene Valentino was not present when the board took up the matter and is not named in the suit.

Also  unnamed in the suit is Commissioner Robertson, a family friend of Gibbs’. While none of the commissioners voted on removing Gibbs, they did discuss such, with Robertson suggesting a redo of the entire process.

Oliver told the board he understood the jest of their conversations and said he would put the position back out on the market—a move that, by definition, required firing Gibbs.

Gibbs is suing for about $15,000. At the same time, he is also on the list of candidates currently in the running for the Equestrian Center position.

“That’s going to be a hard thing for the county to evaluate,” Robinson said of the seeming disconnect.

Assistant County Administrator Larry Newsom sees it differently. The matters are different issues.

“I would say they’re separate,” Newsom said. “Nobody’s black-balled for filing a suit.”